The first team awarded the cup was the Montreal Hockey Club, also known as the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, or Montreal AAA for short, based on the club being the champions of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada over four other clubs, two also from Montreal (the Crystals and the Victorias) and one each from Ottawa and Quebec. They secured the AHAC tile on this date in 1893 with a 2-1 victory over the Crystals. That promoted the Montreal Hockey Club to a 7-1 record over Ottawa's 6-2 mark and the season title - and with it, the prestige of being the first team to possess what would come to be known as the Stanley Cup.
Haviland Routh would lead Montreal AAA and the AHAC in scoring that season with 12 goals in seven games played, while Billy Barlow contributed 7 goals and George Lowe and Archie Hodgson 6 each. Tom Paton in goal led the league with a 2.3 goals against average, allowing 18 goals in the Montreal Hockey Club's eight games.
Things were more complicated the following season when four of the five clubs in the AHAC tied for first place with identical 5-3 records! There was no tiebreaker system in place at the time, so an agreement was made for a playoff to occur. First, Quebec dropped out of consideration and it was then determined that the Montreal Hockey Club would play an elimination game against the Montreal Victorias, with the winner to face the Ottawa Hockey Club simply because Ottawa was given special consideration because they were from out of town! The Montreal Hockey Club prevailed 3-2 over the Victorias and then defeated Ottawa 3-1 to retain the cup for another year.
Herbert Collins was in goal for Montreal AAA that season and he too led the league with a 1.875 goals against average. Routh and Barlow led the club in scoring with 8 goals apiece, which was tied for third in the league.
The following season saw another unusual set of circumstances arise as the trustees of the cup were still finding their way when it came to the rules regarding possession of the cup, as the 1895 AHAC regular season champions were the Montreal Victorias with a record of 6-2, who expected to be awarded the cup as champions of the league of the current cup holders.
But not so fast.
Unusually, the trustees ruled that the Montreal Hockey Club would first have to defend the AHAC's rights to the cup against a challenge from the Queen's University Golden Gaels of the Ontario Hockey Association to determine if the cup remained with the AHAC.
In a game played on this date in 1895, the Montreal Hockey Club defeated Queen's University 5-1 in the first official challenge for the Stanley Cup in a game played at the Victoria Rink in Montreal thanks to goals by Clarence Mussen, Clarence McKerrow, Hodgson and a pair by Routh.
Thanks to Montreal's defeat of Queen's University, the cup remained with the AHAC, but not with the Montreal Hockey Club, as the Monreal Victorias were now holders of the Stanley Cup as the 1895 league title holders thanks to a playoff game they were not involved in!
Today's video is a look at Lord Stanley, the origins of the cup and other related facts about the cup.